Come visit us at The Museum of Military Memorabilia. We have thousands of military artifacts from all branches of the Military. The Museum is located in the Naples Municipal Airport which was originally built by the Army Corps of Engineers to train pilots for the pacific theater in WWII.

What has begun as a Museum Honoring Military Aviation in WWII has evolved into so much more. You can now see historical artifacts dating back to the Revolutionary War and all the way up to the present day Iraq & Afghanistan conflicts.


2012 marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Naples Airport as a WWII Army Air Forces Training Base.


Robert Gass

Robert Gass An American, born 25th March 1922, resident of Queens County, New York City, New York, Robert was White, and of German descent. He stood 5 feet 11 inches tall, was of medium build with dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He went through 3 years of High School education before America joined W.W.2.

After enlisting in 1942 (Army Service Number 12180505) as an infantryman, Robert Gass actually became a paratrooper. In the 82nd Airborne Division, he served with the 508th PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment) in the 1st platoon of E (Easy) Company. He underwent lengthy intensive training including time at Camp Mackall, near Fort Bragg, North Carolina (where he was awarded the Good Conduct Medal on 16th Nov 1943) and participated in a number of training exercises, including the U.S. Second Army’s huge Tennessee manoeuvres in late 1943.

‘It {the 508th} was the first parachute regiment to undergo selection and basic training as a unit. All previous parachute regiments had been formed from a cadre of qualified paratroopers and those newly graduated from the parachute school at Fort Benning, Georgia.  The cadre of the 508th subjected all arriving volunteers to a rigorous physical and mental selection process eliminating many of them. The regiment’s basic training was much more intense and physically demanding than normal, which excluded still more. The result was that only the most physically fit, mentally strong, and highly motivated of those who volunteered, remained with the regiment. The process of officers and men undergoing basic training together fostered bonds of loyalty, friendship and unit cohesion.’

Robert Gass was eventually shipped – highly trained and honed razor sharp – to Ireland in January 1944 and then England in March 1944 where he underwent further training in readiness for Operation Overlord (i.e. the D.Day invasion of Normandy).  He was finally moved to Station 538, (fundamentally an R.A.F. airfield at Saltby, near Melton Mowbray which was borrowed/shared by the USAAF), in order to take part in Operation Neptune which was the initial landings portion of Overlord. The intention was to fly these very highly trained (but comparatively lightly-armed) parachute shock-troops to vantage points inland to prevent German forces from re-grouping to reinforce their opposition to the allied forces who were trying to establish and consolidate the seaborne invasion beachheads.

They were flown in (Douglas) Dakota C-47 Skytrains (nicknamed “gooneybirds”). The plane he was ferried in carried the designation 42-92841 R (Roger) and is now a restored museum piece. It was flown as Mission 1, Chalk 19, map co-ordinate ref 099557, to Utah Beach drop zone N, with planned E.T.A. of 02.08, June 6th 1944 (i.e. D.Day).

Having survived the initial invasion period, he fought until being wounded on 3rd July 1944. Fortunately he was rescued, and after battlefield attention was evacuated back to England for hospitalization and recuperation in the USAAF base in Bideford, Devon.. His injuries healed to the extent that he returned to active duty.  English records indicate during the latter part of 1944.

Unfortunately, and possibly due to the destructive fire in the St Louis Military

Archives depository in 1973, records for the remainder of his war activities are not available. However, a personal photograph of Robert shows him wearing “MP” insignia in Germany in early 1945. As the German surrender was signed in France, in the Chartres area  near Reims on May 7th, 1945, presumably he acted in that position until he shipped back to America, and landed in New York on 27th August 1945.

Apart from D-Day itself, the 508th were involved in many lesser battles, including

Nijmegen, Remagen, and the Ardennes Forest (Battle of the Bulge). Overall they

suffered huge losses – their significant reputation was indeed hard earned. Their nickname, ‘The Red Devils’, was given to them by the German forces who came to dread any confrontation with them. Such was their fame that at the end of the war in Europe, the 508th was selected both to form General Dwight D Eisenhower’s Honour Guard and also guard his headquarters at Frankfurt -am -Main, Germany.

Robert Gass ’s own endeavors are acknowledged through the numerous personal and unit insignia and awards that he earned. Among them, the Purple Heart, French Forager, Bronze Service Arrowhead device with EAME ribbon etc.

He received his Honorable Discharge on 31st March 1946 and continued to live in the New York area,spending many years in the newspaper printing industry, He passed away in Ridge, New York, on July 13th, 1987.

To quote a later American President (John F Kennedy):-

‘Think not what your country can do for you, rather think what you can do for your country.’

Robert Gass

Robert Gass and Leon’s Mother in England

Robert Gass

Robert Gass ( center ) & two buddies

Robert Gass

Robert Gass in Uniform

Robert Gass

Robert Gass as an MP in England

 

 

The story continues, this was written by Leon Tetherton  (one of  Robert Gass ‘s two sons ) recently after investigating the life of his father. he found that he had a brother living in the United States.  When Robert Gass returned to the states after the war ended he met a woman got Married and had a family and bore a son named Steven, who grew up and never knew he had a brother from a previous relationship his father had had with a nurse in England.  I thought it was better to read the story as it was described to me by the son who wrote it, Leon Tetherton,the story of how they met will be contained in the next post to be published very soon  which was penned by Steven Gass and Leon Tetherton ( the sons of Robert Gass, who previously had never met ) a very heart warming story about Family.

  which will include the only pictures that exist of the two sons   ( and their wives ) standing in front of their Fathers Case at the Museum of Military Memorabilia in Naples Fl. stay tuned.    C.W.

 

 

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